Submitted: March 9, 2018
Anthony Capone, Esq.
Jeffrey J Clark Judge
letter provides the Court's reasoning and decision
regarding Defendant Trenton Holmes' (hereinafter
"Mr. Holmes'") motion to compel the State to
produce materials and evidence he alleges are material to his
defense. Mr. Holmes is charged, inter alia, with
drug related felonies following a search of a residence
pursuant to the alleged consent of a resident.
matter, Mr. Holmes seeks certain materials to advance a
potential motion to suppress evidence seized in the search.
In particular, he seeks (1) the call for service detail
report logging the transmissions between the dispatch and the
officers; (2) a recording of all police and dispatch radio
traffic associated with the case; (3) video footage of the
police investigation, including MVR and other footage; and
(4) any alternate records used by the police to coordinate
their arrival and departure to and from the site of the
investigations, to include the responding officers'
personal text messages. He alleges inconsistencies regarding
the police and probation officers' arrival times that he
believes will be material in preparing a motion to suppress.
Holmes primarily argues that these materials are discoverable
pursuant to Superior Court Criminal Rule 16(a)(1)(C)
(hereinafter "Rule 16(a)(1)(C)"). In support of his
argument, he relies upon Valentin v.
State. The State has refused to provide the
requested information arguing that the materials fall under
neither the requirements of Brady v.
Maryland or Rule 16(a)(1)(C). It argues that the
reasoning in three prior Superior Court decisions, State
v. Block, State v. Wood, and State v.
Wells support denying the motion. The State also
argues that to justify production, a Defendant must also make
a showing that the evidence will be favorable to the accused.
The State argues that Mr. Holmes has not made that showing.
matter is controlled by an application of Rule 16(a)(1)(C) in
the manner prescribed in the Valentin case. In
Valentin, the Delaware Supreme Court examined Rule
16(a)(1)(C) and held that dispatch records (including
recordings) were "tangible objects" that were
material to the defense regarding an issue regarding police
pursuit. The Court reasoned that such records were
important independent records of the events as they
transpired. Accordingly, they were material to the
preparation of Mr. Valentin's defense.
in large part, the materials sought by Mr. Holmes fit within
the broad definition of tangible objects, as set forth by the
Delaware Supreme Court in Valentin. In considering
the proffered importance of the records, the Court finds that
the items sought are in large part "within the
possession, custody or control of the [S]tate and [are]
material to the preparation of the defendant's
defense In light of the Supreme Court's
direction to apply Rule 16's discovery requirements
broadly, the "defendant's defense" also extends
to suppression related matters.
three cases cited by the State are inapposite. They include
analysis regarding subpoenas issued pursuant to Superior
Court Criminal Rule 17 seeking sensitive material from third
parties, other than the State, or separate analysis regarding
the timing of Brady disclosures. Here, the matter at
hand does not involve subpoenas targeting third parties and
does not turn on a Brady analysis. The
Block case for one uses the verbiage "fishing
expedition" to provide that the criminal discovery rules
are not appropriately used for such a purpose. As the other
cases, it, however, focused primarily on Brady and
also involved at least some third-party records not within
the possession or control of the State. In reviewing
the cases cited by the State, the Court also recognizes that
all three of them predate the Delaware Supreme Court's
decision in Valentin. In the matter at hand, the
Court must solely look to the pretrial disclosure
requirements of Superior Court Criminal Rule 16.
in both Mr. Holmes written motion and at oral argument, he
adequately explained why, under the limited circumstances of
this case, production of such records will be material for
the preparation of his defense. His articulated
purposes do not make this a fishing expedition. Rather, his
requests are narrowly tailored to his established, defense
related purpose. For these reasons, Mr. Holmes motion to
compel will be granted in large part.
the Court does not find that the text messages of the police
officers responding to the call fall within the purview of
Rule 16(a)(1)(C). First, Mr. Holmes seems to request private
phone records of officers, which the Court declines to order
to be produced. Through Mr. Holmes' motion and argument,
he did not address or articulate why such records fall within
the custody or control of the State. In the absence of a full
development of the issue, the Court declines to order
production of officer phone records. While at some point,
text messages of officers, under appropriate circumstances,
could be required to be produced pursuant to Brady,
Jencks, or Superior Court Criminal Rule 26.2, the Court
declines to order their production pursuant to Rule
the Call for Service Detail Report and dispatch records,
recording of police radio traffic, and video footage in the
possession or control of the State that relates to the time
surrounding police calls relevant to the arrest and search at
issue, the Court finds that such materials, under the
circumstances of this case, are material to the preparation
of the defendant's defense. Accordingly, Mr. Holmes
motion to compel is GRANTED, in part. The
State shall produce such materials within two weeks of the
date of this Order. At that point, after reviewing the
materials, Mr. Holmes may address the Court regarding his
position, if any, regarding needed adjustments to the